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Accessibility in Information Retrieval

April 22nd, 2008 · 3 Comments · General

The other day, I was talking with Leif Azzopardi at the University of Glasgow about accessibility in information retrieval. Accessibility is a concept borrowed from land use and transportation planning: it measures the cost that people are willing to incur to reach opportunities (e.g., shopping, restaurants), weighted by the desirability of those opportunities.

What does accessibility mean in the context of information retrieval?

Instead of an actual physical space, in IR, we are predominately concerned with accessing information within a collection of documents (i.e., information space), and instead of a transportation system, we have an Information Access System (i.e., a means by which we can access the information in the collection, like a query mechanism, a browsing mechanism, etc). The accessibility of a document is indicative of the likelihood or opportunity of it being retrieved by the user in this information space given such a mechanism.

It’s a very appealing way to measure the effectiveness with which the an information retrieval system exposes a document collection–as well as the bias the system imposes. While the paper offers more questions than answers, I recommend to anyone who is interested in thinking outside the box of the traditional IR performance measures.

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Information Retrievability | The Noisy Channel // Sep 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    […] year, I wrote a post about Leif Azzopardi and Vishwa Vinay’s work on information accessibility: Instead of an actual physical space, in IR, we are predominately concerned with accessing […]

  • 2 Help Me Design a Topology of Search Concepts - Things On Top // Jan 6, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    […] Information Accessibility – By implementing a search concept for a given information space, information accessibility is a measure of how much easier it becomes to find any document of interest within that space. If the time it takes (and/or the number of steps required) to retrieve a particular document goes down, the general information accessibility goes up. Read more about accessibility in information retrieval. […]

  • 3 Questions. But Why? // Aug 1, 2010 at 2:42 pm

    […] topics. As much as web search as improved information accessibility for the “long tail” of published information, the effectiveness of web search can be […]

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